Thursday, April 27, 2006

Books Into Movies

So did you miss me? I'm back, still slightly sleep-deprived but otherwise functioning. During my hours on the plane, I managed to catch three movies - the new Pride & Prejudice, Memoirs of a Geisha and Walk The Line.

As a huge fan of the BBC version of P & P (in case you haven't already figured that out), I was all set to dislike the new version but I found myself enjoying it for the very reason that it was different in style. I thought the new male lead (Matthew MacFadyen) brought a vulnerability to Mr. Darcy which was very sweet (in a gruff male way) and made the character his own.

I also liked Memoirs of a Geisha, thought the transition from book to movie was done very well. The little girl who played the young Sayuri had me especially entranced.

And Walk The about a love story. Beautifully done.

What interested me as I was watching, was the prevalence of movies made from books. Aside from the two above, one of the other choices was the Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (maybe I'll watch that on the way back!).

I've always been divided in opinion on the subject of movies being made into movies. On the one hand, it can be very disappointing to see a bad adaptation where the characters look and act like nothing you'd imagined while reading the book, while on the other, a great adaptation can bring a book alive to a wider audience than it might otherwise enjoy. An example of the latter is The Lord of the Rings trilogy. I've tried and been unable to get fully into the books (though I haven't given up yet), but I adore the movies, which makes me want to persevere with the books.

What's your opinion on the books into movies debate? And what book would you love to see on the silver screen?


Josie said...

Nalini, you have the same taste in movies as me! Were we switched at birth or something?

After I watched Doctor Zhivago when I was a teenager(such a sad, weepie love story), I actually tried to read the novel. There were so many characters with complicated names that I decided to stick to the movie!

Janefield said...

Hi, I just read the book 'Memoirs Of A Geisha' and blogged about it. Is the movie as captivating as the book? Reviews and friends didn't seem to think so. I agree with you on the books to movies debate.
Nice blog...will visit again :-)
Am curious to know more about the books you've written.

Nalini Singh said...

Maybe we were, Josie! Since we have the same taste in Sean Bean as well!! *g*

I haven't seen Dr Zhivago but maybe I'll watch it. Wasn't that the movie John Cusack kept watching over and over in Must Love Dogs?

Hi Chosen One (love the name) :) I think if you go to the movie adaptation of Memoirs expecting a transliteration of the book, you'd be disappointed. But if you go to it looking for a movie BASED on the book, you won't be. It should be judged on its own merits and I was very happy with it. They got the whole exotic aspect while keeping it real, too.

p.s. If you want to know more about my books, check out my website (

Cynthia E. Bagley said...

Are you having fun yet? I have found that I want a good long nap after I fly a long distance. Maybe it is that creative streak that wants to hold the wings up????

Heather Waters said...

I would love to see Janet Evanovich's books turned into movies. I'd be curious to see if the humor is translated as well in movie form as Janet does in her books.

I'd also LOVE to see some good medieval romances put to screen, but since most of the emotion comes from the character's heads, it would be difficult, I suppose to translate that on film. But still, I'd see any historical written by Julie Garwood. There was a time when movies like First Knight opened a door for historical romance to be filmed... opportunity seems to have gone.

JLB said...

I’m rather biased when it comes to the transition of books to film. There are very rare occasions wherein I feel that movies have really done their book-roots true justice. For example, while a lot of fun to watch with the big dinosaurs, I really felt that the movie version of Jurassic Park fell way short of the intelligence that Michael Crichton portrays in his book. For me, the book was far more compelling.

What I’ve learned over time is to look at movies-from-books with the attitude that they are a new creation, and not the original. This helps ease the pain of seeing crucial materials left out, or watered-down slants on depthual themes. Often times, I will delay watching a movie until I have had the opportunity to read the book first so as to allow my mind the first crack at interpretation and imagery.

Good cinematography and acting certainly play a role in making a good movie from a book... but what really makes it happen for me is when that essence of a book’s heart shines through on the screen in tandem with an intelligent, creative team who make the movie their own in meaningful ways.

For example: while originally meant for stage anyway, I felt that the recent version of Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet with Leonardo DiCaprio was excellent. It stays true to the language of the book, and invokes a whole new artistic and temporal flavor to make it new and interesting without losing the original story.

One benefit of books-to-movies is that it brings some stories to the masses which might otherwise go unheard... but the sad part of that is that sometimes this is comes at the cost of readership.

Nalini Singh said...

Cynthia - I am having fun but I did spend a lot of time sleeping the first couple of days!

Hi Heather :) I think you're right about the difficulty of making historical romances into movies. Often, I find that the heart of the romance is lost in the action. Re getting the movies made: maybe the tide will turn again??

JLB - I'm with you on looking at movies as a new creation. It's rare that a movie will be identical to the book and given the different medium, that may be too much to ask anyway.